Which is the best, most eco-friendly form of renewable energy? Most of us would probably guess hydroelectric. Unlike wind it doesn’t blight views, chop up birds or drive neighbours mad with humming; unlike solar, hydro installations do not appear so dependent on massive public subsidy. Plus, of course, we live in a land of rivers and rain so it makes sense to harness all that free, carbon-neutral energy.
The Environment Agency certainly thinks so. Out of 26,000 possible in--river sites around the country, it has listed 4,000 as ideally suited to hydro power development, and is licensing up to three a week. Already, around 17 per cent of the world’s electricity and 90 per cent of renewable power comes from hydro.